Healthy & Beautiful, Meditation

Meditation: You Are the Author of Your Own Life’s Story

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I’ve taken a few days off from writing meditative posts because 1) Life. and 2) At the risk of sounding repetitive, I wanted to make sure what I was writing was useful and unique.  Writing/using meditative practices can feel redundant at times, and while practice is what gets us to that elevated state of being, it’s also not helpful to repeat the same things over again.  In order to grow in your practice, especially if you’ve been at it for a while, you sometimes need new information to help feed it.

I’ve written on the topic of “Creating Your Own Life Story” before, but it came from a different point in my life, a point at which I was evolving into who I wanted to be.  A few years later, and I’m a lot more self-aware (in all aspects), am driving towards the things I want, and am finding myself enjoying each of my days as much as I can. In other words, I’m constantly creating my life’s story, and it never stops!

I know, especially in today’s world, there’s so much noise – “buy this”, “travel here”, “do these 80,000 things before you die”, “vote this way”, “hate this”, “love that”. You follow all of these “strong recommendations” on how to conduct your daily life, living in fear (and debt) that you’ll be missing out, or are judged,  and you’re miserable because what you really wanted was something different.  In this scenario, are you really creating your own life story or living out someone else’s?

I used to have major FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) a lot.  I believed that other people’s lives, documented on social media, were far better in comparison to mine. I tried to emulate much of what they did and wore, and realized that 1. I was exhausted 2. I felt broke, and 3. I had no idea who I was.  So what if I preferred a different style of dress?  So what if I didn’t get the $1000 milkshake at the newest/trendiest cafe (totally exaggerating on that one, but I once shared a $300 lasagna)?  Was the stress and instant gratification worth the emulation and money for something that would be forgotten on a timeline?  And, that’s just this overly-hyped use of social platforms… this doesn’t even account for real-life situations of going to place after place, event after event, seeing the same faces every night, realizing you’re just as lost and miserable as everyone else… while they are carrying the coveted bag of the season.

Step 1, for me, was getting out of my environment.  I’ve mentioned before the notion of being around what you want to BECOME.  This means living in an environment that nurtures your life’s goals, not prohibits them.  It means surrounding yourself with like-minded people who inspire you to get there.  Unfortunately, Washington, D.C. wasn’t the place for my transformation, so I moved back to San Diego for a year.  While it came with its own challenges, it also came with a lot of GROWTH – it was as though I needed to be a “life” exchange student to independently transform into the person I was always meant to be.

Step 2, for me, was figuring out how to BE healthier.  This wasn’t a checklist, but rather a natural progression.  Sunshine is a good start, and so are long walks by the ocean and the bay.  Then I started hanging out with some of my favorite people who are into holistic approaches to life, including meditation, Reiki, eating well, and workouts designed to relieve stress.  Slowly, over that year I was there, I began to evolve.  I started to naturally move away from certain people who weighed me down negatively, I adopted new, healthy habits that had me looking and feeling better than I ever had before.

Step 3, for me, was to EXPERIENCE my own life.  Feeling freer than I ever had before, I spent a lot of time in Los Angeles meeting all sorts of amazing people, went to Sundance for the first time, flew home a couple of times to attend some super fun events, as well as so many other places to do things I had had on my “bucket list”, but was never sure I’d get to.

… and then… I moved back to Washington, D.C.

It wasn’t planned, it just sort of happened.  My lease was up, and I knew that while San Diego was great, I needed to be around a bit more energy.  The decision was then between moving to Los Angeles or going home.  I went back and forth on it until I was just about a week away, and decided that for some unknown reason, it was time to go home.

The thing was… I was different, more relaxed, and happier.  I saw the city in a different light. I took the tools I instilled in me, and made a conscious decision to keep using them as best I could (while not being surrounded by sunshine and water).  I took a trip through Europe for two weeks, experienced pure euphoria on a few occasions during that trip, came back, met someone amazing, traveled to Mexico, India, and Iceland, bought a house, and moved up in my career.  I’ve written two books (which are currently being reconstructed), have been asked to contribute to professional publications, and have finally settled into a great mind/body routine.

The summary on my life matters because I consciously CHOSE to create my own story, to experience my life the way the universe intended.  I said “yes” more and “no” less.  I chose (and choose) to remain present as much as I can to appreciate every moment, regardless of what I’m doing.  I chose (and choose) to not waste any minutes, because there might not be minutes left with someone you love, or even you, yourself.

You’re going… “well, good for you, but why do I care?”  Because everyone is given their own journey from the start, and few actually take it.  YOU have the ability, at any time, to choose what you want to do with your life.  I’m not saying up and quit your job, and become a beach bum; but I am saying if you’re happier by the beach, look for remote work that allows you that flexibility!  If you wish you could have happier friends, make sure you’re making yourself happier first and then you will attract those friends!  Don’t wait for others to create your story, make yourself be the most interesting person in the room because YOU went out and created it.

Live. Life. Fiercely.

So, you want to be on the path to happiness, and you’re ready to create that story that’s all your own.  How do you do it?

Always start small!  Just like any new healthy habit, it’s taking baby steps to make it stick.

  1. Start by looking out a window you always look out of and notice five new things you never saw before – it can even be people!  Appreciate the fact that you saw five new things out of the same view – it means you’re already practicing awareness and looking through a different lens!  Repeat that for a week or so, appreciating, each day, that you can see something different (it’s also fine if it’s different windows).
  2. Do something different in your routine everyday.  Are you usually a coffee and toast person?  Have a bowl of cereal instead!  It forces you to sit down for a minute and enjoy the morning… even if it’s only a minute.
  3. Take stock of the things that make you the happiest – things that have a lasting effect.  No, this isn’t shopping.  Is it your home?  Is it your family?  Friends? Travels?  Pick one (or more) of those and spend more time with it/them.  This is to create that happy feeling, continuously, that propels you into wanting to seek more avenues of long-lasting happiness.
  4. When you’ve mastered these, seek out the new things you want to try that gives you the same happy vibe you’ve been feeling everyday.  Is it learning to skydive?  Dance?  Go do it!  The happy feeling comes from accomplishment of trying it… even if you decide it’s not right for you to do again.

The goal you must always keep in mind is that you are seeking happiness through things that brighten your life.  The more you open yourself up to the experiences, the more you do, become, and are able to share with the world!  Go out there and create your own story.

 

Healthy & Beautiful, Meditation

Meditation: Creating Peace in Your Life

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It may because I’m getting older (I’ll be 40 in August), but I’ve realized I hate disturbances and do my best to avoid them at all costs.  If I can “be” Amy Poehler in this .GIF then I’m heading in the right direction.

For the first (let’s say) 36 years of my life, I allowed myself all sorts of unhealthy imbalances that left me tired, dramatic, and totally unsure of who I was as a person.  I wanted “the right” people to like me, but in turn, wanted them to make me happy.  I really had no idea who I was, and that wasn’t good.

In the last four years, a lot of things changed.  I went from married to divorced, from living in San Diego, to living back in D.C.  I went from renting to being a homeowner, and financially struggling to get by, to dabbling in investing and certainly padding my savings.  I also went from allowing friends that didn’t have it together, to making peace with the fact that I’d prefer quiet nights in than absorb negative energy.  But, the only way  I was able to get there was to create my own peace and self-love, by spending a lot of time taking stock of my life.

We all have that one aspect of this process that’s the most difficult to overcome and for me, it’s other humans.  By nature, I’m a people person and with my aforementioned affliction, it was super hard to take stock of who I surrounded myself with, what I really wanted in a friend, and ultimately, how to gracefully “exit stage left”.  If you’re like me, then you know that deep down, almost everyone is a good person, and quite possibly, they are just as “stuck” as we are/were.  As time goes on and the universe’s “nudge” to follow your path gets stronger, it forces you into a situation of having to make better decisions for the long run. As the saying goes, “Surround yourself by those that inspire you to be where you want to go.”  While it feels down right wrong to fade out something (or someone) that doesn’t serve a purpose, it’s also important.  It’s part of growing into the person you want to be – the person you have to spend the rest of your life with (you).

Sure, I’m focusing on other humans because that’s where my journey has taken me.  But, it could be anything.  It could be a job, bad habits, holding yourself back from something you really want to do, a need to surround yourself with materialistic goods to make yourself happy, etc.  The point is, no matter how painful, it’s necessary to shed what no longer serves in order to find peace.

Many believe peace is about instant gratification; happiness. The actual definitions Miriam-Webster has includes:

: a state of tranquility or quiet: such as

a : freedom from civil disturbance

  • Peace and order were finally restored in the town.

b : a state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom

  • a breach of the peace

2: freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions

  • I have been in perfect peace and contentment
  • —J. H. Newman

3: harmony in personal relations

  • The sisters are at peace with each other.

4a : a state or period of mutual concord between governments

  • There was a peace of 50 years before war broke out again.

b : a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity

  • offered the possibility of a negotiated peace
  • New York Times
5used interjectionally to ask for silence or calm or as a greeting or farewell

Imbalance feels disturbing

at peace

: in a state of concord or tranquility

  • The problem was settled and his mind was at peace.

(Originally this word was created in the 14th century – that’s a bit ironic given how much of Asia was being conquered at the time, as well as the spread of the Black Plague.  Perhaps this word was the only word to describe what they wanted 🙂

But, if you look at all of the definitions for it, it proves that most people abuse the word “peace” as something that isn’t an ever-lasting state.  If you take a look at “at peace” (at the bottom of the list of definitions), it denotes a timeless state of being – that it’s the end result we all want to achieve.

How To Get There

As with yesterday’s post, this isn’t an easy journey, and certainly one that can’t be forced. But, there is a path and if it’s followed diligently, it will be easier!

  • Meditate – seriously, I can’t stress that enough.  It can be 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, or whatever works for you.  Putting your body and mind in a state of complete calm becomes somewhat addicting.  You’ll realize you like having no disturbances.
  • Consciously think about what would put you at permanent peace.  Write it down and put it somewhere you can save it.
  • Begin to slowly chip away at how to get to that state of peace.  Is it staying in one extra night a week to save money, helping to slip away from those you don’t truly want to be around?  Is it telling yourself you don’t need to go on Amazon everyday? Is it slowly fading out a bad habit by replacing it with a good one?  Regardless of what it is, take it day by day, or hour by hour if you have to!  Make sure to write down the milestones you want to achieve and if necessary, a plan to get there.
  • Write down your positive thoughts and feelings in the morning, and do it again at night.  Read it once to see how your day went, then don’t look back – living in the past doesn’t promote growth

For those reading this, you’re already on the path to self growth, or are looking to achieve this.  I’m not an expert in the slightest, but I’ve been through enough life to get the hardships, difficulties, and the constant wanting of something better.  I, myself, have followed the above, and I’m a believer in the process!  I hope that each of you find the long-lasting peace you want in your lives.  And if you ever need something to aspire to, save that Amy Poehler .GIF 🙂

 

 

Healthy & Beautiful, Meditation

Meditation Day 10: The Reality of Inner Strength

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After going through this meditation, I was honestly a little taken aback by Deepak’s intro before he dove into the meditation.  I realize that this meditation was created out of the need to help millions of people who felt complete despair after the election, but was hoping the political agenda behind it wouldn’t truly be revealed.

Then came the mention of “Why does one person appear to get all the power, while millions of others give it away?”  This was followed by a message to stand tall, speak your truth, and take responsibility.

While this can be translated into everyday life, it was still too much, too soon and certainly not right, considering meditation teaches us to not judge.

As a human race, we have unfortunately become very fragile.  Between most of our lives being spent/displayed on the Internet, reality shows being the normal thing to watch, and more kids growing up latch key; we’re in a society of weaker-minded, lost individuals that don’t know how to find their inner strength to actually DO things that will make a difference in this world.  No, I’m not saying ALL humans are like this but certainly, there is a very large shift, particularly with this newest generation.  And instead of doing something to curtail it, people find it easier to shut it off by taking on the burden for the other, in order to move forward.  It is this horribly repeated cycle that is causing a generation of lost souls.

Yesterday, I wrote of the need to find yourself first before bringing someone else into your life.  Today, I’m asking for you to reach deep down inside yourself and pull out your greatest strengths, examine them, nurture them, and then USE them.  Each one of us has amazing gifts to share with the world, and there should be no shame or fear in pursuing them – even if it’s a side hobby.  Are you someone that by day wears a suit, really wishing you were at Burning Man, artistically expressing yourself through costume?  DO IT!  Share your artistic brilliance with the world!  Are you someone that really wants to spend more time helping those less fortunate (or even just the general population), and know you can make a difference?  What’s stopping you?  Or, do you feel like you’ve been treated unfairly and know you are better than that?  Step up and be “better than that”.  These are just a few examples but the point is, there is no need to live your life in fear.

So what happens when you come out from the shadows:

  • You are at peace
  • You are strong
  • You no longer feel anxious
  • You feel the world is full of endless possibilities – and you take advantage of it
  • You are able to take on any challenge life throws at you, and you welcome it

I know it’s so much easier said than done, so start small.  Take a class in something that interests you – even only if it’s one time.  Or, if you feel bogged down emotionally, there’s no harm in seeing a therapist – no one has to know but you.  If you can go totally out of your comfort zone and you need a true break, take a drive somewhere, stay the night in a hotel, and just relax – pamper yourself! Start getting to know who you are and learning that you’re your own BFF.  Treat yourself with the same care you would treat others.  Before you know it, you’ll be that kitten in the mirror, staring at a lion 😉

Namaste

Healthy & Beautiful, Meditation

MEDITATION DAY 20: BECOME WHAT YOU BELIEVE –LIVING BY THE LIGHT OF TRUTH

In D.C. (well, and in many other cities as well), there are many individuals, walking around, playing a great game of “smoke and mirrors”.  To those who do not know what that means, it means that in order to fit in with a group (professional or social) you aspire to be like, you start to make up stories about yourself, dress differently, and act differently than who you really are.  In other words, lying to yourself and to others all of the time, in order to achieve what you think you want.  It leaves most people I know, depressed, confused, scared, and alone.

At some point in our lives, we all do it.  However, most of us do it as a sort of trial and error, to see if what we aspire to, would actually fit who we are and if not, we shed it and move on.  We move onto more fulfilling, grounded lives where our true aspirations – our true selves – can actually thrive.  Unfortunately, not everyone has the power to achieve that.

While I never went through that particular phase, I did get ideals in my head about who I should align myself with, to achieve a particular social status; or what I should do with my life, in order to tell the story I think everyone wants to hear.  In the end, I ended up in miserable relationships (and friendships) and a bit exhausted from thinking I had to be seen at everything.  I wasn’t taking “time outs” to figure out who I really was and what I really wanted to be.

In so many previous posts, over the last year, I’ve talked about my experiences, moving to San Diego (and back) and what they’ve taught me. To move away from everything you know, because it’s time for a well-founded change, is an incredibly difficult feat.  However, the more time that went on, where I was by myself, getting into a routine meant for ME, the better I became at figuring out that I have one life to live, and I have to live it for me, no one else.  So… who am I and what did I really want?

I turned to meditation, a healthier diet, complete sobriety, and plenty of SoCal sunshine to answer those very questions.  It led to meeting some incredible people from all over the world that fit parts of me that I loved exploring.  It meant not worrying about social status, a false appearance, or having to sell myself as something everyone else is. Although I always love to dress up, it felt good to spend my days in cut offs and a tank, or a sundress. I went from a D.C. socialite to a wanderer, and I’d have it no other way.

Then, I moved back a year later.  I was a bit nervous that I’d lose all of the work I’d put into myself – especially all of that SoCal sunshine and what it did for my soul.  But what I didn’t realize was that confidently knowing who I am, and how I’d behave, wasn’t going to change.  Why?  Because I inadvertently did the following, since I moved home in May:

  • Shed myself of all stressful people and situations in my life.  By either having up-front chats, or slowly phasing out those that didn’t jive with my lifestyle, I was able to evolve myself into a positive human being with less stress!
  • Remained kind and patient with everyone I would meet, or have ever known.  Everyone has their own journey and life and I learned to respect this.  I stopped judging others and took it as an opportunity to learn more about a culture, or a different way of life, or even a different way of thinking.
  • Remained focused on myself and my beliefs, not allowing others to tarnish that.  These beliefs are the core of who I am – I have to live with me the rest of my life, no one else.  In addition, I learned not to take on other people’s problems.  There’s a fine line between friend and therapist.
  • Decided that my likes and dislikes would allow me to experience my world in the best way possible, and to not care if I was judged for them. So what that I love EDM music and would happily live in an apartment above Echostage?  It doesn’t mean I align with what that culture can bring – I grew up dancing, and that love will never die. And, so what if I actually do love camping and hiking?  Just because I love dresses and girly things, doesn’t mean I don’t mind getting dirty. (These are just a few.)
  • Remained honest to myself and others about who I am and what I will/will not put up with. The more honest I was with myself, the more honest I could be with others.  This lead to a lot more respect and admiration than I ever could have imagined.  It also lead to far better relationships and friendships than I thought  possible!
  • Remained open to all of life’s possibilities because so far, some of the best experiences I have had, have come from things I would never have done before.  It gets addicting, doing things outside of my comfort zone.  I’ve met incredible people, while dining alone (something I was previously terrified of doing).  I’ve been to amazing parties, where people I was previously intimidated by, became good friends.  I am with someone now who I never thought I’d open myself up to dating (and so far, it’s one of the best relationships I’ve ever been in). I’ve gotten up at 5am to experience first light at some beautiful ports in Europe (I love sleep). And, I’ve allowed myself to enjoy every single moment of life that I can, remaining present as much as possible.  (To name a few.)
  • Remained unapologetic for who I am and what I’m about.  I have no need to justify who I am or why I believe in something.  No one should have to defend themselves (unless of course they have done something illegal, but I digress) on who they are.  I realize that not everyone in this world is going to like me, and that’s okay because not everyone will be in perfect alignment with each other.

I’ve focused on becoming the best me I could be, making sure that I was happy with how I’ve turned out, making adjustments here and there, to keep myself in a good place.  Now that I’ve been living from a place of truth for almost a year, I can say I’m in the best place I’ve ever been.

 

So my task for you in this practice: Bring all of your learnings from the last three weeks, together.  Realize that while sometimes you might feel lonely in figuring YOU out, you will only emerge stronger, and more beautiful than you already are.  You will be surrounded by better people and better experiences because YOU are coming from a positive place, in which you have learned to love yourself and live your life from the best place you can – your core.

Namaste

Healthy & Beautiful, Meditation

21-Day Meditation Experience: (Day 4) Grace is Replying

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“The more you are grateful for what you have, the more you can live fully in the present.” – Dana Arcuri

Using gratitude to awaken the joy and beauty around us, allows us to find life easier, more fun, and more meaningful.  The little things are the things we appreciate the most – we actually take time to stop, smell the roses, and “feel” the beauty that comes from them.  No longer are we waiting for life to happen the way we think it should – we are embracing the moment.  This is grace replying to you.

In the last few of my posts, I presented exercises in reflecting on how to be grateful at the end of the day, for what your day held.  Now it’s time to focus on being grateful in the present.

Let’s say you’re in your office, reading this post, and you were having a bad day.  Something in this post hit a chord with you, and in that very moment, you were inspired, you felt uplifted, and motivated.  That’s grace replying to you!  Or, you’re walking out to your car, and you notice how beautiful the weather is – not a cloud in the sky, perfect temperature, with just a slight, warm breeze.  You immediately feel joy, happiness, and a slight ease in your mind.  That, too, is grace replying to you.

The point is, you’re feeling grateful in the present – you are appreciating a little moment in your day that can shift a negative mood, into a positive one.  Stopping to do this a few times a day, soon becomes second nature.  Realizing that being present opens the door to continuously positive moods, which then opens a door to better energy flow, that then opens a million doors towards opportunities you never thought possible; will then bring you unending grace in return.

Namaste

Healthy & Beautiful, Meditation

21-Day Meditation Experience: (Day 3) Awakening the Energy of Gratitude

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“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.” — Emily Beatty

In today’s meditation, we are guided to “gladdening the heart”.  Gladdening the heart replenishes gratitude and recharges your batteries – especially when you’re angry and/or stressed.  Meditating helps with this process, in that you are requesting the warm attitude of thankfulness.  It renews the energy, unique to gratitude, resulting in feeling safe and supported.

All too often, when we are in a negative spot, we start making “I wish” or “I regret” statements, turing on the spigot for negative thoughts and feelings.  We start to aspire to be someone else, wishing we had a different life, free from pain, worry, and stress.  We begin to regret things that already happened and start to feel unlucky at life.  This is the point when we realize we are not grateful for a single thing our lives have provided us, which means our hearts needs to be “gladdened”.

In the recent week, I’ve been having a rough time all around.  When one thing triggered a stressful response, all of a sudden, everything else seemed wrong with the world too.  Monday, I really struggled to understand how I got to such a rough time, feeling incredibly down and low on my gratitude.  I took a step back, meditated, wrote down everything I was grateful for and began to feel better.  By Tuesday, I was back to envisioning the kind of life I want to live and by this morning, was back on my feet.  This is the process of gladdening the heart – renewing the energy within oneself to be the best version of yourself you can be – and a happy one at that!

It’s not always easy to do when you’re down, so here are my suggestions to getting you back to happiness!

  1. It’s okay to cry and let it out – don’t shove the feelings way down.  Talk through it if you have to, even with yourself.
  2. When you’re done, close your eyes and take a deep breath.
  3. Sit silently with your eyes closed and mentally list out three things you are grateful for today.
  4. Take another deep breath.
  5. Remind yourself that you have a great life, that you are beautiful, and that in the scheme of things, it doesn’t matter.
  6. Give yourself one task that will make you happy throughout the day.
  7. Go do it… today.

This process will allow you to deal with the emotion at hand, recenter yourself, and put you back on a path towards being the beautiful, vibrant, happy person you are!

Namaste